Purchasing Wholesale Blanks
There are several places where you can purchase wholesale or bulk-rate T-shirts. Most apparel distribution companies allow you to set up a wholesale account if you are a legitimate business in the apparel market. The first step is to provide your resale or tax ID number and follow the proper steps outlined by each company.
Garment wholesalers will offer you wholesale rates once you are an approved vendor (saving you $$$). However, typically your rates are determined by the volume that you order. Historically vendors would offer you a discount rate specific to each order vs overall volume. This system would have 3 different tiers. Piece, Dozen, and Case (72 units) would be based on an order to order basis and are per garment style, size, and color. This model has been replaced by most companies and instead, they have a formula base on historical ordering volumes to determine your pricing.
Since most startup clothing brands do not yet order large volumes, it's common to use your screen printer to order the goods for you.
Most of the time they are able to offer you the same rate as going direct to the supplier. This is especially true for larger companies who regularly order tens or hundreds of thousands of blank garments per year.
Still, it is important, to be honest, and transparent with your printer about the prices you are currently offered. That way you both can make the decision as to whether or not they order the goods or you send them directly. Either way, it should be a mutual decision from both parties. There are some circumstances where a printer will not offer to work with you unless they supply the blanks. This is usually because their print pricing is low and money is made off of the sale of the blank vs the production.